Alfa Romeo celebrates 110th anniversary with 79-page e-book

The one-time Italian subsidiary of a French carmaker has come a long way

For its 110th anniversary, Alfa Romeo wanted to host a summer bash at its renovated Museo Storica Alfa Romeo in Arese, Italy. Coronavirus nixed that, so part of the Plan B syllabus is a 79-page e-book that plucks all sorts of fascinating details from even before the automaker's birth as A.L.F.A., which stood for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili, and the fecund history since. The work can be considered more than a dive into Alfa Romeo history because of Alfa Romeo's reach for much of its existence. The 1914 Aerodinamica by Castagna built on an Alfa Romeo 40/60 HP chassis predates Buckminster Fuller's Dynmaxion by 20 years. Enzo Ferrari raced for Alfa Romeo or with Alfra Romeo support for 19 years, the driver's seat also occupied by legends like Juan Manuel Fangio, Tazio Nuvolari, and Alberto Ascari. Nuvolari drove the Bimotore — a car with one V8 in front of the cockpit, another V8 behind — to a top speed of 209 miles per hour in 1934, and raced the car alongside Louis Chiron, the same Frenchman Bugatti would later name a car after.

Alfa Romeo's tech prowess impressed famed tinkerer Henry Ford so much that in 1939 Ford said, "When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat." And it's hard to believe Ian Fleming hadn't heard of the 1900 C52 Disco Volante concept from 1952 when conjuring a name for Emilio Largo's motor yacht for his 1961 book, "Thunderball."

There's plenty of Alfa-centric trivia, too, like an employee coming up with the idea for the automaker's logo while waiting for a train, the origin of the quadrifoglio, intended as a good luck charm for all the three drivers in the 1923 Targa Florio but only paying off for one, and how Nicola Romeo inscribed his name in history. The stories carry up to the present day Giulia GTA and coming Tonale crossover, with a cameo by FCA design chief Ralph Gilles to boot. The book is a quick read, so check it out, or just scroll through lots of photos documenting 110 years of Italian automotive history.

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